After years of very public squabbles, the Beach Boys appear to be working in perfect harmony again. The reunited group — including founding members Brian Wilson, Mike Love and Al Jardine, along with legacy members Bruce Johnston and David Marks — is about half finished on a long-waited new studio recording. A tour is also planned, beginning in April.
“The guys are all amazing,” Wilson told The New York Times over the weekend. “They’ve never stopped blowing my mind for 50 years.”
Wilson has been touring with his own band for years, and even reconstructed the Beach Boys’ failed masterpiece SMiLE a few years ago as a solo project. Meanwhile, Love has waged court battles against both Jardine and Wilson. But none of it has stopped the momentum of this new project, Love and Wilson said, which is ongoing at Ocean Way Recording in Hollywood.
“There’s a couple of songs that are close and the rest of them are a work in progress,” Love said, “and we plan on going back into the studio in another couple of weeks and keep going until we’ve got it finished.”
The forthcoming release is to include a closing suite of songs, and each of them has been composed to work together thematically, in the style of Pet Sounds and SMiLE. “On the album,” Wilson said, “one song flows into another and that flows into another like that, until it’s over, until there’s no more album.”
As with all of the Beach Boys’ best-known projects, Wilson is constructing the bulk of the music, with additional help from the others. “It’s going really well,” Love said. “Brian has worked on some great tracks, great melodies, great harmonies, and he’s been dealing it out to all of us. It’s really sounding good.”
Here’s a look back at our recent thoughts on the Beach Boys. Click through the titles for complete reviews …
THE BEACH BOYS – THE SMILE SESSIONS (2011): Wilson’s long-awaited mythical masterpiece was issued in expanded form as The SMiLE Sessions, nearly 45 years after its conception. Be warned, though: While the original album has been referred to as the Beach Boys’ Holy Grail, this massive collection of studio recordings will probably be more well received by musicians and the serious music fan. Novice passersby need not apply. That said, despite the newly recorded version of this project released by Wilson in 2004, no one could have expected what depth and quality Sessions would bring to the table.
SOMETHING ELSE! FEATURED ARTIST: THE BEACH BOYS: As the Beach Boys prepared to celebrate their 50th anniversary with the 2011 release of The SMiLE Sessions, an updated version of the 1968 track “Do It Again” and a proposed world tour, we took a look back at some fun, fun, fun old favorites — including tracks from Surfer Girl, Pet Sounds, Holland, Smiley Smile and Sunflower.
BRIAN WILSON – MIDNIGHT’S ANOTHER DAY (One Track Mind, 2008): While completing his own version of SMiLE in 2004, Wilson at long last regained his foothold on feel-good popcraft, a sturdy piece of ground he’d largely conquered by the mid-1960s. Unfortunately, Wilson doesn’t advance that notion over the balance of The Lucky Old Sun, so much as confirm that SMiLE was his own personal vista. Sun is, really, a grand-sounding yet somehow empty album — from the staid “Forever She’ll Be My Surfer Girl” to the outdated linking narratives by SMiLE co-writer Van Dyke Parks. Still, “Midnight’s Another Day,” with its gospel-tinged piano signature, can’t be denied. It’s a direct link between “In My Room” and the modern-day Wilson.
THE SOUND OF SUMMER: CELEBRATING THE BEACH BOYS’ LASTING JOYS: Think Beach Boys, and many remember a group perhaps irrevocably reduced by its tragicomic storyline. Admittedly distracting plot points, beyond the 36 Top 40 hits (most of any U.S. rock band), include shocking revelations involving drugs and mental breakdowns, one never-finished Musical Statement, a slow decline into moldy oldies caricature, several different touring ensembles trying to lay claim to the franchise, various resulting suits and countersuits, and a remarkable moment of jackassery at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Fifty years later, too, there is the unironic visage of old men still playing the part of fun shirt-wearing purveyors of a long-gone California surfer lifestyle. Forget all of that. They remain, at least on the 1960s records, the very sound of summer.